After checking in to our Queenstown accomodation, we walked to the foot of the Skyline cable cars preparing ourselves for some high speed action along the way. Obviously adrenalin was hastening our heart rates and cadence due to the excitement that was to follow and we arrived in no time at all. The ride to the top was as steep as it gets, but with every inch we climbed, the views of Queenstown became increasingly stunning. The beauty of this town is staggering and this final leg of our trip was to prove the most fitting finale for our wonderful journey.
Once at the summit, we all took time to appreciate the expansive and diverse vista of farmland, rivers, lakes, thriving townships and snow covered mountain tops. We also saw what skill the luge rides would require, with the gravity powered vehicles rapidly pouring down the winding slopes. It was now time for us to experience the luge ride. Helmets were fitted as we hopped onto another small cable car taking us to the starting line. Unfortunately Max Gallant was unable to participate after a small break in his arm was found after a misfortune at a park. Nonetheless, Max enjoyed watching his mates rev up, made all the more enjoyable with a cookies and cream ice cream from Mr Hazelton.
A short briefing on the race rules and luge instructions prepared the boys for their first cautious descent. It was soon clear that the driving skills and approach from the boys were many and varied. In 5 or 6 years time these boys will be able to drive a vehicle on public roads, a little disturbing to say the least, Sydney roads are dangerous enough these days! Surely their would be carnage to follow????? Jeremy Arfanis was certainly taking no chances, making it to the bottom of the ride in the slowest time ever recorded! Conversely, Hamish Danks reveled in the small 4 wheeled vehicle piloting his way down with a serious need for speed!
It is fair to say the boys efforts improved with their confidence throughout the 3 runs down the mountain, with very few incidents. Hotly contested racing meant for an abundance of tall stories, glory and excuses for lacklustre performances. Legend has it, that Mikey Hassan got airborne over one of the jumps and failed to take the next corner, cannoned into a wall and got stuck on a barrier. Apparently Mikey has more experience on vehicles with 2 wheels powered with something other than gravity.
Perhaps the most competitive racing of the day involved the staff. After an unchallenged victory in 2013 Joel “Mach Speed” Wilson was the early favourite to repeat this year. Neil “The Handbrake” Brunton, Mark “Miss Daisy” Caulfield and the 2015 rookie David “Throttle Back” Hazelton were keen to take the title. The staff race saw some of the fastest times in luge history. “Handbrake” got off to a flying start, it was somewhat dubious but after reviewing was deemed fair. “Miss Daisy” and “Mach Speed” battled early and looked to cut down the leaders margin. “Mach Speed” employed his renowned aggressive tactics but suffered devastating car failure, leaving “Miss Daisy” to attempt to run down “Handbrake”. In case you couldn’t work it out, “Throttle Back” was not in the same class of the others and was even overtaken by a few grandparents on his way down. But it was “Handbrakes” race after a clean run down the track in a professional and experienced display. “Miss Daisy” 2nd “Mach Speed” 3rd and “Throttle Back” just making it down in time for dinner.
This activity was one of the best according to many of the boys. It was starting to get late and the boys were excitable, tired as well as hungry. Tonight we were very fortunate to be dining at the highly popular skyline restaurant, overlooking the serene Queenstown framed by awe inspiring mountain ranges. In this splendid setting, we were able enjoy some amazing NZ food to compliment each others company. It was certainly our most enjoyable meal on tour, delicious food, well mannered boys and highly impressed restaurant staff, creating a celebratory atmosphere, befitting of such a wonderful tour.